Budgam: Basim Ahmad, 15, says he hasn’t slept for four days. He was in the Maruti car that was fired at by army men in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday, resulting in the death of two teenagers.
When Basim shuts his eyes, he sees the bullet-hit bodies of his friends. “I thank God that I am alive. Maybe it is destiny,” says the boy, his gaze filled with sadness beyond his years.
The Class IX student survived by crawling out of the car to the paddy fields and running for his life.
The day began with five friends making plans to drive to a village to watch a procession for Muharram, which marks the death of Prophet Mohammad’s grandson. By the end of the day, their lives would be shattered.
“We were having a good time in the car. A song was playing, we were joking around. We didn’t notice any checkpoint as the army claims,” Basim told NDTV.
Their car, he says, overtook a vehicle and scraped it. When the driver of that vehicle started shouting, Faisal, the teen who was driving the Maruti, reportedly sped up. The boys then saw some soldiers signaling at them to stop, but Faisal missed seeing them.
Basim says the army then started firing and Faisal was shot; he slumped over the steering wheel and lost control of the car.
“The car hit the pole. The army started firing andha-dhoond (indiscriminately). They didn’t even see that there were children in the car,” Basim says.
He stumbled out of the car from the other side and crawled, rolled and ran through the field, not stopping till he managed to reach a friend’s house. He looked back once to see three of his friends, Meraj, Zahid and Shakir lying on the road.
Two more boys are in the hospital.
The army has said it was a “mistake”; the soldiers were watching out for a white car in which terrorists were today said, “We are admitting mistakes have happened. We promise a fair and transparent inquiry.”
The deaths have provoked massive outrage and protests in the Kashmir Valley. Protesters in Budgam say the army should punish its men for killing innocent civilians.